Though autumn began with a tease of an Indian summer, it’s coming back around in full swing. Grey skies, cool winds and everything from a refreshing sprinkling to torrential rain have turned the sunny SoCal everyone loves into just another summer slipping away.
While many of my fellow Californians lament over the changing seasons and take cover from the rain, I’m brought back to the overcast memories of fall in Switzerland. The November rain of last year’s Lausanne has begun early here, and the drop in temperature makes me yearn for a return to the shores of Lac Léman and the cozy nights shared with friends.
After a summer packed with trips to Las Vegas – sunning at the hottest pool clubs and dancing in the coolest nightclubs – and weekends spent on Orange County beaches, I’m ready for sweater season and all that it entails. However, a busy summer has left me with an empty wallet and a head full of Swiss dreams.
Enter my kitchen. It looks older than the 70s house it sits in, and no matter how much I tried to make it a cozy place, it was thoroughly uninspiring. That is until I discovered two things: the new Cooking Channel on cable (with lots of U.S. and Canadian cooking shows plus a good mix of old classics and new edgy chefs) and the world of food blogs (new fave is the round-up site, tasteologie.notcot.org). My recent free time is split between rounding up recipes to try, actually trying them and reading even more about food in the meantime. (No seriously, my current reading consists of a food history book and two Michael Pollan novels.)
So what’s a food-obsessed girl to do when the dismal weather and frigid air (by typical Californian standards) leaves her dreaming of Ovalmatine in the Alps?
Exactement! If I can’t travel by air, then I must travel by palate. One of the first cool nights, I ushered in the season with a quiet fondue night for two. Leave it to the Swiss to figure out there’s nothing like the comfort of melted cheese and a bottle of wine to warm you up. The apples aren’t traditionally eaten in Swiss fondue, but it was my addition after trying it a couple of years back at The Melting Pot restaurant. It gives a nice sweet, tart kick to the cheese.
The fondue left me with a feeling of nostalgia, so when the weekend’s cloudy skies finally ripped open into sheets of rain and thunder yesterday, nothing felt more appropriate than a cup of espresso mixed with Caotina, a Swiss hot chocolate drink that is too rich for words.
For now the rain has stopped, but the skies remain somber. Who knows what else will inspire a return to Switzerland, whether it be to the actual streets of Lausanne or just Travel in the Kitchen.